Backstage at the Egyptian: Mike Santoro of The Stranger: A Tribute to Billy Joel

Interview with Mike Santoro of The Stranger: A Tribute to Billy Joel.

This show is coming to the Egyptian Theatre on Saturday, October 13 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are still available here: https://bit.ly/2P603ZF

Interview conducted by Karina Palomo

Karina: Where did your love for Billy Joel begin?

Mike: Growing up in suburbia, Levittown NY. I was about 10 years old, and my oldest sister (in her early teens) had great taste in music. I used to shuffle through her records and played The Stranger album beginning to end. When I learned that Billy Joel himself was born and raised just a few miles from me in Levittown, an instant hero was born in my world.

Karina: How did you learn to play the piano?

Mike:  I was a self taught drummer, and always loved piano but never really took it seriously until I was in my 20’s. Everything I know is learned by ear and muscle memory. It’s been the most challenging and the most rewarding thing for me. Billy has compared the piano to “a big Drosendorf dog with 88 teeth trying to bite my fingers off”. I can’t agree with him more!

Karina: What do you enjoy most about performing at historical theatres?

Mike: If the walls can talk! When playing in a historical theatre, I feel like I am literally living and being a part of its history, which truly gives me a deep appreciation for having this so called “job” that very few get to do professionally. It’s really nothing short of an honor, and such a thrill that while it’s happening I couldn’t quite put it into words. Right now, joy is a good word.

Karina: What is your favorite Billy Joel song to perform?

Mike: I’d probably have to say “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” because it’s his first “epic” song, it tells a story, it’s rich in both sound and meaning and it’s the most challenging to play. Plus our audiences always loves to hear it.

Karina:What can the audience expect from the show?

Mike:  FUN. The guys in the band really enjoy each other’s company on and off stage and it shows and it’s contagious. We’re fellow fans with the audience celebrating the music of the Billy Joel, so it’s a musical and personal journey that we all relate to. By the end of the show everyone doesn’t want it to end, it’s that much fun. Making great memories.

Karina: What are your fondest musical memories?

Mike: Without having to think about it, being with my late father in his Oldsmobile listening to him sing along to the songs on his AM radio and he’s encouraging me to sing out loud. I was a shy kid, still am in many ways. But I credit my dad, who was also a professional singer once upon a time, for his inspiration. He was a phenomenal tenor, and sounded A LOT like Frank Sinatra.

Karina:What advice would give to beginners who are nervous?

Mike:  I get nervous before every single show I’ve done to this day. It’s natural. Nerves are GREAT, and useful! So, I’d say to use that nervous energy, channel it, and turn it into your passion. Nothing great ever comes quick and easy. And it’s ok to make mistakes, just own it. Even someone like Billy Joel himself has had to fall many times in order to learn from his mistakes, and to have the drive to grow and cultivate his passion for songwriting and performing his music. And that’s why he is a legend, and why I get to do what I do.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Jeffrey Chown of the Green Lens Film Series

Interview with NIU film Scholar Jeffrey Chown

Conducted by Karina Palomo

Karina: Where did your passion for films begin?

Jeffrey: In the 1970s I got inspired by Swedish Ingmar Bergman films and started attending the film society offerings at the University of Michigan.

Karina: Why do you believe the Green Lens Film Series is important?

Jeffrey: Movie culture has the potential to unite people.  We are trying to bring films to the Egyptian that create an audience for films about social change or transformation.

Karina: How does it feel to have the series return to the Egyptian Theatre?

Jeffrey: It’s always special to see films on that big screen and now that the new projector has been installed, I am really excited about attending.

Karina: What is your favorite film in the series?

Jeffrey: Chasing Coral is a beautiful film that will bring a tear to your eye.

Karina: What are you hoping the DeKalb community takes away from this series?

Jeffrey: A sense of solidarity with other socially minded citizens.

Karina: Why do you believe documentaries are important?

Jeffrey: Documentaries try to educate us.  Education can be pleasurable, but they are much more ambitious than superhero films in terms of getting an audience to respond and be aware.

Karina: What suggestions do you have for the DeKalb community in order to help resolve the issues presented in this series?

Jeffrey: The films are sponsored by the activist group, “DeKalb Stands.”  Anyone wanting to get involved should just contact us and come to the meetings and activities that are organized.


The Green Lens Film Series returns this Thursday, October 4 at 7 PM with the film Chasing Coral. All Green Lens films are free and open to the public.

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Darren Holden & Brian Dunphy of The High Kings

Interview conducted by intern Karina Palomo.


Interview with Darren Holden of the High Kings

KARINA: What was the motive in starting an Irish ballad group?

DARREN: The time for a new folk revival was around 2007. People have been listening to the legendary bands for years but the rumblings were there for something new and fresh and luckily we arrived on the scene at the perfect time and opened up a new era.

KARINA: How does it feel to be the leaders of the new and bright era for folk Irish music?

DARREN: It’s very flattering to be name checked as innovators for a new age of Folk music by so many bands and fans alike. We don’t take it for granted but rather ensure we stay at the top of our game for as long as possible.

KARINA: What do you all like most about performing at historic theaters?

DARREN: When I performed in the Broadway show ‘Movin’ Out’ one of my favourite things was playing all the legendary Fox theatres around America. So much history and stories to be found. I’m really proud to stand on these stages.

KARINA: How did it feel to have your songs on the Billboard Magazine’s World Chart?

DARREN: Oh it feels amazing! I mean that’s the pinnacle for any artist to see the fruits of your labour succeed like that. An incredible feeling and a moment to remember forever.

KARINA: What are you all looking forward to during the Decade World Tour?

DARREN: Meeting all the fans that have been along for the ride for the last ten years and hopefully gaining some new ones too. It’s been quite the journey.

KARINA:What is the band’s favorite song to perform and why?

DARREN: Personally, My favourite is The Town I Loved So Well. It’s an all time Irish classic and I am honoured and humbled to sing it at each performance.

KARINA: What has been the bands favorite memory as performers?

DARREN:So many to choose from but I think performing for President and Mrs Obama at The White House is pretty hard to beat! It was my second time to perform there as I also played for President and Mrs Bush in 2004. I feel pretty blessed.

KARINA:What can the audience expect during the show?

DARREN: A two hour roller-coaster of emotions that only The High Kings can take you on. Songs, stories, fun, tears and laughter! It’s all in there!


Interview with Brian Dunphy 

KARINA: What was the motive in starting an Irish ballad group?

BRIAN: We each wanted to get back to our roots and the music we grew up with and as we knew each other pretty well we knew that this was something missing at that time and we gave all the old songs a new feel.

KARINA: How does it feel to be the leaders of the new and bright era for folk Irish music?

BRIAN:I feel it’s more of an honor to keep these songs alive and give them to a new generation.

KARINA: What do you all like most about performing at historic theaters?

BRIAN:It’s all about the history in each venue who has played there and who has stood in the same place we have and we hear some incredible stories of legendary musicians.

KARINA: How did it feel to have your songs on the Billboard Magazine’s World Chart?

BRIAN: We never thought that we would have ever achieved something like that. In our minds it was always about putting the music out the way we felt right and if the fans liked it we would be thrilled but to have gone that little bit further in success was a complete surprise.

KARINA: What are you all looking forward to during the Decade World Tour?

BRIAN: Meeting all the fans after the show and meeting new ones in new cities along the way.

KARINA: What is the band’s favorite song to perform and why?

BRIAN: My personal favorite is Dublin in the rare old times as it reminds me of my dad teaching it to me when I was very young.

KARINA:What has been the bands favorite memory as performers?

BRIAN: A very special moment was to perform for our own President Michael D Higgins and we have performed for President Obama at the White House to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and we also got to lay a wreath in Arlington Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for all the Irish men and women who have fought for our country and then we got an invite to the Pentagon.

KARINA: What can the audience expect during the show?

BRIAN: We like to call it Folk n’ Roll


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Backstage at the Egyptian: New Intern Karina!

My name is Karina Palomo and I am the Egyptian Theatre marketing intern for the fall.I was born and raised in Chicago.  I am also a senior at Northern Illinois University, where I am pursuing a degree in Nonprofit and NGO Studies as well as Political Science. After graduation I plan on working for an organization that is focused on fighting for the Food Justice Movement.

I am truly looking forward to my intern experience at the Egyptian Theatre. I am grateful for the opportunity to obtain real life experience in the nonprofit sector. Throughout this internship I will be able to build my marketing, writing and communication skills. During my time at NIU, I have heard fabulous things about the Egyptian Theatre.  I am so happy that I am able to contribute to such an amazing organization that is the heart of DeKalb.

I would also like to thank the Center of Nonprofit and NGO Studies as well as the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership for allowing me to be apart of the internship program. I am hoping to apply everything that I have learned in the classroom at the Egyptian Theatre this fall!

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Plain White T’s Releases New Album Before September 30 Concert

GRAMMY & Tony-nominated, multi-platinum alt-pop band,  Plain White T’s have released the video for their single “Light Up The Room.” The visual is inspired by the 1980s entertainment and film era, as it plays on a fusion of Netflix’s Stranger Things (featuring an adult Eleven) and a supernatural Bonnie and Clyde meets Pulp Fiction

“Light Up The Room” is one of five released tracks from the anticipated studio album, Parallel Universe. The collection is out this Friday, August 24th via Fearless Records and is available for pre-order now at all DSPs.  Parallel Universe was produced by Matt Squire [Ariana Grande, Panic! At The Disco] and includes 14 tracks that effortlessly portray the band’s endlessly hummable signature melodies while experimenting with new sounds, such as ethereal electronic pop. Full track listing can be found below!

Plain White T’s will also be getting back on the road for the Parallel Universe Tour. Don’t miss them Live in Concert at the Egyptian Theatre in Downtown DeKalb Sunday, September 30 at 7:00 PM with opening act Like Language.  Tickets are on sale now at www.egyptiantheatre.org.

Earlier this month, the band announced that they will be developing a TV series centered around their hit single, “Hey There Delilah.” The band is also scheduled to appear on the nationally-syndicated talk show Live with Kelly and Ryan on Tuesday, September 11th – stay tuned for more exciting news on Plain White T’s!

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